Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I love Thomas Hardy. I always thoroughly enjoy his books, knowing full well that my mind will easily produce a beautiful image thanks to his skill at elongating even the tiniest of details. I revel in the depths of each character, enjoy looking at the landscapes he creates so expertly and his social conventions are insightful. I wish more modern authors would allow themselves to be influenced by late 19th Century writers…
Not my first time reading Far From the Madding Crowd, and it is by no means my favourite Hardy novel but I love his heroine characters. I read Bathsheba as strong and confident (whereas I am sure that my Husband would take her as fickle with a lack of life skills), she creates such a dynamic twist to the plot, almost as if Hardy struggles to keep up with her choices. The story is set in a rural town, with Bathesheba as the new owner of a farm after her Uncle died and left it to her. The story follows the relationship between her and her 3 very differing suitors; the first is simple but steadfast Gabriel Oak. The second a wealthy William Boldwood who owns the farm adjacent and finally there is the lustful Sergeant Troy.
Bathesheba is a real woman, who has enough determination in life to run her farm, but simultaneously enough love in her heart to be wooed by a strapping young soldier. She makes mistakes and retributions. She is gossiped about yet highly respected. She has the brains to ensure the success of the farm and it’s workers yet she has the faith in God to see her through turbulent times. I would like to think that she is one of the earliest fiesty characters in literature.
Like the first time I read Far from the Madding Crowd, I loved it. I have a couple of favourite quotes; the first is Oak’s proclamation of love very early in the book;
“And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be— and whenever I look up, there will be you.
I particularly like this as later on in the book, when Bathsheba is in turmoil she glances into Oak’s house to see him sitting by the fire, suggesting that his simple and constant love remains as steadfast and true as the day he revealed it.
The below quote I think is very poignant,
It seems to me that the good lord in his infinate wisdom gave us three things to make life bearable- hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these was dogs.
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback
I continue to remain in complete awe of Robyn Davidson. She is such an inspiration, in act and words.
It’s important that we leave each other and the comfort of it, and circle away, even though it’s hard sometimes, so that we can come back and swap information about what we’ve learnt even if what we do changes us
― Robyn Davidson, Tracks
“It’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself.” – Danny says to his father
Danny the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl
Inside all of us is Hope.
Inside all of us is Fear.
Inside all of us is Adventure.
Inside all of us is… A Wild Thing.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
I have recently finished Birdsong, and was shocked at how it impacted me emotionally. It wasn’t the story that I found so moving, but rather the parallel lives of those back in Blighty and the indifference they felt towards the front line soldiers.
A full review to follow, but for now a quote from the book that truly illustrates how this war affected the men who gave their bodies and minds to it.
How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.